Wednesday, September 21, 2022

The Marketville Mysteries, Three Years Later: Guest Post by Judy Penz Sheluk

Judy Penz Sheluk: The Marketville Mysteries, Three Years Later

The Winter 2021 edition of Mystery Readers Journal (Volume 37, No. 4) featured Cold Case Mysteries, and I was honored to have my article on writing cold case cozies included. At the time, I had published three books in my Marketville Mystery series: Skeletons in the Attic (#1), Past & Present (#2) and A Fool’s Journey (#3), the latter released in August 2019. As much as the series was well received, and as much as I loved my kickass amateur sleuth turned professional investigator Calamity (Callie) Barnstable—and her partners in solving cold cases at Past & Present Investigations (Chantelle Marchand, genealogist, Shirley Harrington, reference librarian and Misty Rivers, self-proclaimed psychic)—I’ll admit I didn’t have much in the way of an idea for book #4 beyond a title: Before There Were Skeletons.

I blame part of my lack of inspiration on Covid lockdowns in 2020—no one was more surprised than me to discover I needed the stimulation of the world outside of my office—and a fall on the ice and subsequent concussion in 2021. 

Fast forward to January 2022. I’m back to doing New York Times crosswords and getting restless. And then I remembered Callie and Before There Were Skeletons

The realization that it would be three-plus years since the last book in the series was the first thing I needed to address. In Skeletons in the Attic, first published August 2016, Callie was thirty-six, birthday May 1, 1980. Before There Were Skeletons would be set in February 2022. Aging her in place would bring her to forty-two, on the cusp of forty-three. I also had to accept that her former partners may have moved on in three years, and in truth, I wanted them to. 

I sent Chantelle back to her ex (formerly known as Lance the Loser), the couple now living in Ottawa, had Shirley retire to spend winters in Florida (a true Canadian snowbird) and Misty Rivers married and setting down roots in British Columbia. The latter was especially fun because toward the end of book #3, A Fool’s Journey, Misty had just been set up on a blind date.

Of course, Callie can’t go about solving cases without someone to do some of the more tedious tasks, like digging through library newspaper archives, and so I invented Denim Hopkins, a twenty-four-year-old tech savvy waitress. Denim doesn’t have any formal sleuthing experience, but she’s keen to learn and she’s on a mission to find a missing person of her own—a deadbeat ex-boyfriend that drained their joint bank account, let the rent check bounce, and left her like a thief in the night. With her former best girlfriend, no less.

Early readers have told me that Denim adds a fresh new dimension to the series, and as an author, it gives me the added benefit of explaining an investigative process that might otherwise seem contrived. I’ve also enjoyed writing her character enough to consider expanding her role in book #5, whenever that might be. 


About the Book

The last time anyone saw Veronica Goodman was the night of February 14, 1995, the only clue to her disappearance a silver heart-shaped pendant, found in the parking lot behind the bar where she worked. Twenty-seven years later, Veronica’s daughter, Kate, just a year old when her mother vanished, hires Past & Present Investigations to find out what happened that fateful night. 

Calamity (Callie) Barnstable is drawn to the case, the similarities to her own mother’s disappearance on Valentine’s Day 1986 hauntingly familiar. A disappearance she thought she’d come to terms with. Until Veronica’s case, and five high school yearbooks, take her back in time…a time before there were skeletons.


Before There Were Skeletons will release on October 21 and is currently available for pre-order at all the usual suspects. Universal Book Link:

The e-book version is promotionally priced at $2.99 until October, when the price will increase to $4.99 US/$5.99 CAD. Trade paperback and large print versions will also be available for pre-order by October 1.



A former journalist and magazine editor, Judy Penz Sheluk is the bestselling author of two mystery series: The Glass Dolphin Mysteries and the Marketville Mysteries. Her short crime fiction appears in several collections, including the Superior Shores Anthologies, which she also edited. 

Judy is a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she served as Chair on the Board of Directors. She lives in Northern Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Find her at



1 comment:

Judy Penz Sheluk said...

Thanks for all you do for mystery writers and readers, Janet. And thank you for your continued support of my books.